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Posted: 4/4/2006 8:17:08 PM EDT
Sunday afternoon I was out walking with my son in our neighborhood (McLean, VA - about 1 mile from Tysons) when he spotted a raccoon in broad daylight. Luckily, we were only a couple of doors from our house and I hurried him inside.

Besides being out and about at 2:30 in the afternoon, the raccoon had a very funny look to it (glassy eyes, it wasn't walking straight) and I surmised it had rabies or something else. It wasn't aggressive, in fact it was the exact opposite of aggressive, but neither was it fearful of people. I spent a total of about 30 minutes hanging out on and along a sidewalk next to a grassy play area in our park.

Luckily I had my phone and was able to call animal control to come in and dispose of him. I also had my carry gun with me (Colt 1991A1). Since the raccoon didn't threaten me or my son, I didn't draw on it, but was thinking to myself (especially as the 911 operator debated with me whether or not a strange acting raccoon out during the day in a park where kids play was really a threat that warranted sending animal control!!!) about what action to take if it became necessary.

What is the law in Virginia generally about shooting suspected rabid animals? How about in fairfax? Is there a prohibition? Do I need a hunting license (I have one, not a problem)? Can I discharge a centerfire handgun in Fairfax? Perhaps even more important, if anyone has faced this situation in the past, what posture have the local police taken regarding your actions (especially in Northern Virginia)?

FWIW - Animal Control came and caught him within seconds. He didn't try to get away until he was being put in a cage - and at that point some jerk came up with two dogs unleashed and let them run right up to the cop as he was struggling to put the raccoon in the cage. Said jerk got a stern talking to and a hefty fine.
Link Posted: 4/5/2006 3:56:02 AM EDT
As I understand, it is illegal to discharge a firearm within FFX county except at designated ranges, while hunting (in approved areas), or in defense of your own or others wellbeing. So, as soon as the animal became aggressive and/or threatening, I'd think you'd be in the clear.*

*Not a lawyer.
Link Posted: 4/5/2006 5:21:06 AM EDT
That sounds like textbook rabies. I have exterminated a lot of raccoons while cruising timber. Uninfected coons try to get away from you in a hurry, infected ones just keep walking. There was one that was walking around in circles, almost as if someone had tied it up........
Link Posted: 4/5/2006 8:52:27 AM EDT
If it was an immediate threat, I'd say you'd be okay shooting.

Otherwise best to let animal control handle it. Either way you should always call them 'cause they keep track of such things.
Link Posted: 4/5/2006 8:55:37 AM EDT
right before my dad died 6 years ago, I was over there (Arlington) one day and a big fat racoon came out of the bushes, and walked towards me. It was broad daylight out, so I figured something was amiss. I went into the house and called animal control. I was quite taken aback by the lack of concern on the part of the person I talked to. She said this was common (!?) for racoons in the area, that are used to human contact.

I moved into the house after he died...and I saw this fat bastard once or twice more, and then never again. I did have a whole family of them under the deck year before last...I counted 4. They would peer into the house from the basement window...it was pretty amazing.

I came close to getting the blowgun out, but figured I'd have a hard time getting the bodies out from under the deck...so I just let them go on about their business. They finally moved on...I think me shining my Surefire light at them 3 or 4 nights in a row had something to do with that.
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